Aki Takase

Close Up of Japan

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This meeting between pianist Aki Takase and the Toki String Quartet is a successful fusion of the worlds of jazz and classical music. The pianist, also accompanied by bassist Aki Takase, did all of the arrangements, while the program tests the quartet. First violinist Michiko Iiyoshi responds to the demanding "Point" (written by free jazz pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach), while Takase moves from the keyboard to hand muting the strings and strumming them during a portion of her solo. Darius Milhaud's Scaramouche is likely more familiar ground to the string players, though the works of this 20th century classical composer are infused with jazz influences. Miles Davis' modal piece "Milestones" opens with droning strings before the pianist makes a belated entrance with Iiyoshi to introduce the familiar theme in a rather dissonant arrangement. Takase wrote several originals, including the tense "Presto V.H." (which extensively features cellist Tatsuki Watanabe) and the wide-ranging "Close Up of Japan." Recommended.

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